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Changing Visa Status from L-1 to H-1B

August 31, 2010

Consider this Scenario: You are an L-1 employee working for your L-1 employer in the United States.  You come across a job opportunity and are considering to have your potential employer file an H-1B petition under the H-1B quota (if you have never had an H-1B approval before).  Your potential employer files an H-1B on your behalf and it gets approved with an effective date of, lets say October 1, 2010.  Your employer forgets to inform you if your H-1B has been approved 1) with a change of status from L-1 to H-1B; or 2) without changing your status but with an overseas consulate notification so you could leave the U.S., get an H-1B visa stamp at a U.S. consulate abroad, and then enter U.S. using the H-1B visa stamp. 

In option #2 above, you may choose to continue to work for your L-1 employer beyond October 1, 2010, without any concern as to violating visa status.  However, if your potential employer processed your H-1B using option #1 above (change of status type H-1B), and you continue to work for your L-1 employer beyond the effective date of your H-1B, in this case October 1, 2010, your continued employment with your L-1 employer is considered unauthorized.  This is because effective October 1, 2010, USCIS database system will show that your L-1 visa status ceased to exist and your H-1B visa status begins.  Working for an L-1 employer after obtaining a change of status H-1B approval is unauthorized employment and could result in serious consequences.  Therefore, always be watchful of this subtle but important aspect of your visa status when considering changing from L-1 to H-1B.  Speak with Human Resources Dept. or the attorney involved in the case and understand the technicalities.         

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